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Monday, 07 September 2015 23:33

Will the bad news ever stop coming for Medway: Massive hike in permanent and fixed term exclusions

Updated with Medway permanent exclusions 2014-15.

How much worse can it get for the children of Medway? My previous article recorded the dire statistic that Medway primary schools had the worst KS2 results in the country for 2015, and overall for the period from 2009 to 2015, whilst earlier in the year, Medway Primary schools published figures show that the Authority came bottom in the country in 2013-14 for OFSTED outcomes.

Now come the latest national figures on fixed and permanent exclusions, which cover the school year for 2013-14 and show Medway has the second highest percentage of primary school fixed term exclusions in the country. This is the equivalent of one fixed term exclusion for every 3.37% of the school population, over three times the national average and an astonishing rise of 34% over 2012/13.

A previous article I wrote about permanent exclusions showed that permanent exclusions in Medway rose astonishingly over the same period by over three times from 22 to an astonishing 70, the third highest proportion of the school population in the country. In 2009/10 there were just three permanent exclusions in Medway.

Couple this with the two most recent Inspections of local authority arrangements, the first for the protection of children in 2013, which were found to be Inadequate, the second for looked after children services in 2013, also Inadequate.

Surely, now there is now enough evidence for a full investigation into the quality of education and children’s services in Medway taking all these factors into account, followed by a replacement of Education and Children’s Services part of the Children and Adult Services Department which is clearly not fit for purpose, before the children of Medway suffer even more....

Kent and National Record on School Exclusions
Primary

The national number of school fixed term exclusions expressed as a percentage of the primary school population in 2013/14 was 1.02%, i.e. on average, one child in every 100 receive and exclusion. Quite a few of the excluded children had more than one exclusion, so in practice 0.49% of children were actually excluded, around one in every 200. This shows an increase over 2011/12, of 11.5% which is much less than the figure for Kent and Medway, but certainly is evidence of a significant change of strategy in the country’s primary schools with regard to discipline.

For Kent, the figures were higher than the national figure, at 1.29% on average, but in practice 0.58 children for every 100 in the county’s primary schools, nowhere near the level of Medway. What is worrying is that this also represents a large increase since 2012/13 of 19%.

Few primary school pupils are permanently excluded, for 2013/14 the percentage nationally being 0.02% as it was for 2012/13. Kent saw a fall in the year from 0.3% to 0.2%, the national average.

Secondary
The national number of school permanent exclusions expressed as a percentage of the secondary school population in 2013/14 was 0.09%, down from the 0.12% of 2012/13.

However, Kent showed a sharp fall from two years previously fitting in with the Local Authority strategy to reduce the number of permanent exclusions, as explained in my article. By 2012/13 the number was 88, approximately halving form the previous year. This continued into 2013/14 with a total of 64, less than half the national average.

I now have a set of 2014.15 permanent exclusion figures for Kent that show a disappointing increase from 90 to 109 (I don’t have primary and secondary figures separately), but this is mainly down to a change in policy at two of the Brook Academy Trust schools, amongst the smallest and least popular in the county, which had no permanent exclusions in 2013/4, but 13 in 2014/15. Eight of these were at Ebbsfleet Academy which is operating a very public tough discipline tactic as explained here. Two primary schools in Thanet, run by the controversial TKAT Academy Trust account for another nine: Salmestone Primary and Drapers Mills Primary Academy, up from two last year.

Medway’s Position and further information
Medway’s excuses for the Authority’s disgraceful and consistently disgraceful state of affairs are many and varied, as reported in the pages of this website, which contain links back from the above articles; but also consistently reported is the abdication of any responsibility for the scandal. Most recently, the Cabinet Member for Education, Mike O’Brien, when pressed for Medway’s role in providing education came up with ‘leadership’, which has been defined as: “the action of leading a group of people or an organization, or the ability to do this”. Actually there is no evidence of either of these roles being fulfilled by the Council who find everyone else to blame for the situation, hardly an example of leadership. Indeed a quote on the BBC website encapsulates the Medway ostrich approach: "Medway Council said decisions on temporary exclusion were made entirely at the discretion of head teachers". If Medway Council has NO influence on these headteachers, what is the point of them?

The permanent exclusion increase in secondary schools in Medway contrasts sharply with Kent’s reduction the other way as it soared from 34 to 59 students over the year, a further rise from 19 in 2011/12 and 3 in 2009/10. The Bishop of Rochester Academy, on which the Diocese of Rochester has now given up to pass it on as the Victory Academy, accounted for nearly a quarter of these, at 14 students. The figure is now two and a half times the national average and is the fourth highest in the country, behind Lewisham, Oldham and Tameside. At primary level it increased by 50% to nine, over the year.

After this article was originally written, I received the permanent exclusion figures for Medway in 2014/15. These show a small but welcome fall in permanent exclusions to 52 secondary exclusions over the year, and seven were from primary schools. Highest number of permanent exclusions were from Brompton Academy - 11, and Robert Napier School - 10 (which also had the highest number - 16 - of students withdrawn or encouraged to leave the school to take up 'elective' home education ). 

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 15 September 2015 07:41

2 comments

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 21 December 2016 16:30 posted by Shelley Wilson

    If I could obtain capital funding I would be able to put in place a proven provision that would reduce primary exclusions in Medway. The council however have no money and no interest. Sadly.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 19 September 2015 16:08 posted by Anonymous

    I believe the cause of such high exclusions in Medway is their policy on Inclusion. There are no primary PRUs in Medway and no alternative provision for pupils without an EHCP. That means mainstream schools are forced to keep pupils who in reality need specialist provision.

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